My 2016 in review

Well 2016 is over. Looking back on the previous year seems to be the in thing to do around now, and it sure beats coming up with original content, so let’s take a look at the past year.

Between this blog, Opensource.com, and The Next Platform, I published 102 articles in 2016. That doesn’t count blog posts, conference papers, marketing materials, and other things I wrote for work. Writing has certainly claimed a central part of my life, and I like that.

In 2016, I got to see my articles in print (thanks to the Open Source Yearkbook). I started getting paid to contribute (I was even recruited for the role, which is a great stroke to my ego). I presented talks at two conferences, chair sessions at two others (including one where I was the co-chair of the Invited Talks). My writing has given me the opportunity to meet and befriend some really awesome people. And of course, it has helped raised my own profile.

Blog Fiasco

Blog Fiasco had what is probably its best year in 2016. I was able to keep to my Monday/Friday posting schedule for much of the year. Only in May — when I was traveling extensively — did I have an extended stale period. I only published 78 articles here compared to 99 in 2015, but I also have done more writing outside of this blog. With just over 8,000 views in 2016, traffic is up by about 5%. As a matter of contrast, my Opensource.com article on a bill working its way through the New York Senate had more views than all of Blog Fiasco.

Top 10 articles in 2016

These are the top Blog Fiasco articles in 2016

  1. Solving the CUPS “hpcups failed” error
  2. Reading is a basic tool in the living of a good life
  3. When your HP PSC 1200 All-in-One won’t print
  4. Fedora 24 upgrade
  5. Accessing Taleo from Mac or Linux
  6. A wrinkle with writing your resume in Markdown
  7. elementary misses the point
  8. Hints for using HTCondor’s credd and condor_store_cred
  9. Book review: The Visible Ops Handbook
  10. What do you want in a manager?

Top articles published in 2016

Here are the top 10 Blog Fiasco articles that I published in 2016.

  1. Fedora 24 upgrade
  2. Hints for using HTCondor’s credd and condor_store_cred
  3. What do you want in a manager?
  4. Product review: Divoom AuraBox
  5. A culture of overwork
  6. Disappearing WiFi with rt2800pci
  7. mPING and charging for free labor
  8. What3Words as a password generator
  9. My new year’s resolution
  10. left-pad exposed the real problem

So 2017 then?

I’m pleased to see that a few of my troubleshooting articles have had such a long and healthy life. I’m not sure what it means that the article I published on December 30th was the ninth-most viewed article of the year, but it certainly says something. This blog has never really been for anyone’s benefit but my own, as evidenced by the near-zero effort I’ve put into publicizing articles. In part due to having other, audience-established outlets for writing, Blog Fiasco has become a bit of a dumping ground for opinions and articles that don’t really fit on “real” sites. I’m okay with that.

Will I put more effort into promoting content in 2017? We’ll see. I think I’d rather spend that time writing in places that already have visibility. The monthly “where have I been writing when I haven’t been writing here?” posts will make it easy to find my work that doesn’t end up here.

On a personal note

Outside of my writing, 2016 has been a year. Lots of famous people died. Closer to home, it was a year with a lot of ups and downs. My own perception is that it was more down than up, but I think 2017 is heading in the right direction again. I’ll let you know in early 2018.

Professionally, I’ve changed positions. I left an operations management (but really, operations doing-ment) role to do technical marketing and evangelism. It was an unexpected change, but a hard-to-pass-up opportunity. I don’t regret the decision, except that it has changed what I thought my career trajectory was, and I haven’t yet figured out if I want to curve back that way at some point or if I want to continue down this (or another) path. I know better than to make specific plans, but I take comfort in having a vague target in mind.

And then of course, there’s stuff going on in the world at large. I try to avoid politics on this blog, but I’ll take a moment to say that the next few years are shaping up to be “interesting”. I have a lot of concerns about social and environmental protections that may cease to exist. Nationalist movements in the U.S. and Europe are gaining steam. I know that even if things get as bad as some fear, society will eventually recover (depending on what happens with climate change, “eventually” could be pretty long), but I also know that for some people it will really suck.

Whatever 2017 brings, I wish you health, happiness, and success, dear readers.

Other writing in December 2016

Happy new year! Where have I been writing when I haven’t been writing here?

SysAdvent

Once again, SysAdvent was a great success. The large community that has built around this project means I do less than in years past. I want to give others the opportunity to get involved, too. This year I edited one article:

The Next Platform

I’m freelancing for The Next Platform as a contributing author. Here are the articles I wrote last month:

Opensource.com

Over on Opensource.com, we hit the million page view mark for the third consecutive month. I wrote the articles below.

Cycle Computing

Meanwhile, I wrote or edited a few things for work, too:

  • LISA 16 Cloud HPC BoF — I summarized a BoF session at the LISA Conference in Boston.
  • Various ghost-written pieces. I’ll never tell which ones!

Well that’s one way to break a WordPress install

Several of you noticed last week that when I shared a new blog post on social media the link resulted in an HTTP 404 (page not found). I attributed it to the fact that I had written the post before I switched from the WordPress plain link style (e.g. “/?p=123”) to a longer style (“/2016/11/06/sample-post/”) and figured the plugin to publicize it didn’t handle that change correctly. But the link was correct, so what was it?

It turns out to be a security feature. I set the .htaccess file to be read-only. This is generally a good idea, but it caused a problem. When I changed the permalink setting, WordPress wasn’t able to write the necessary changes. As it turned out, WordPress was kind enough to let me know about this, but in a very unobtrusive way.

Below the “Save Changes” button, the WordPress settings page displayed this message:

“If your .htaccess file were writable, we could do this automatically, but it isn’t so these are the mod_rewrite rules you should have in your .htaccess file. Click in the field and press CTRL + a to select all.”

Of course, since it was below the save button, I didn’t even look at it. Only after I broke links to the blog posts in a very public manner did I notice what I had done. I blame myself mostly, but I also blame WordPress a tiny bit. “I can’t actually do what you told me to do” seems to merit a more in-your-face message. Big, red text or a popup dialog would have made it clear that I had more work to do.

But in the end, I was able to fix it quickly. Only two people said they noticed, and it’s not like I have more than a handful of page views on a given day anyway. Plus, I got this blog post out of the ordeal.

Other writing in October 2016

Where have I been writing when I haven’t been writing here?

Over on Opensource.com, we had our second-ever month with a million page views! While I didn’t have any articles published, I did agree to coordinate the Doc Dish column, so there’s that.

Meanwhile, I wrote or edited a few things for work, too:

I also spoke at the All Things Open conference in Raleigh, NC. It went okay.

Other writings in September 2016

Where have I been writing when I haven’t been writing here?

Over on Opensource.com, we had another 900k+ page views in the month: the fourth time in site history and the second consecutive month. I contributed two articles:

Meanwhile, I wrote a few things for work, too:

  • Cycle Computing: The cloud startup that just keeps kicking — The Next Platform wrote a very nice article about us, so I wrote a blog post talking about how nice it was. (Hey, I’m in marketing now. It’s what we do).
  • Cloud-Agnostic Glossary — Supporting multiple cloud-service providers means having to translate terms between them. I put together a Rosetta Stone to help translate relevant terms between AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud.
  • The question isn’t cost, it’s value — When people talk about the cost of cloud computing, they’re usually looking at the raw dollar value. Since it takes money to make money, that’s not always the right way to look at it. It’s better to consider the value generated.

New entry in the Forecast Discussion Hall of Fame

Most entries in the Forecast Discussion Hall of Fame earn the honor with a consistent excellency throughout the entire work. As Hurricane Hermine approached the Florida coast earlier this week, forecasters at the Tallahassee forecast office were focused on the effects of that storm. The fire weather discussion contained a single word, and that’s what landed it as the most recent entry.

It’s worth noting, too, that several subsequent updates to the Area Forecast Discussion left the fire weather section unchanged. I’m glad to see Southern Region Headquarters did not immediately rain bureaucratic hell upon the office. I’m not sure that would be the case in other regions.

We’ve moved!

Since 2005, FunnelFiasco.com has been hosted by Dryline Hosting. Dryline is a small provider run by David Drummond, a guy I know (digitally) from the days when I frequented the Stormtrack forum. Today is the last day for Dryline hosting, as David has decided to shut things down. I’d like to thank him for all of the years of reliable and valuable hosting.

While I certainly could run my own web server, I don’t particularly want to. There’s a lot to be said for not having to do work when I’m not at work. So as of yesterday, FunnelFiasco.com is now hosted by my friends at Sumy Designs.

At this point, the DNS changes should have completely propagated. I don’t expect any issues, thanks to Ed the migration went swimmingly. However, if you notice any issues, please let me know.

Looking for my replacement

It’s been nearly three years since I joined Cycle Computing as a Senior Support Engineer. Initially, I led a team of me, but since then we’ve grown the organization. I’d like to think I did a good job of growing not only the team, but the tooling and processes to enable my company to provide excellent support to enterprise customers across a variety of fields.

But now, it is time to hire my replacement. I’m taking my talents across the (proverbial) hall to being working as a Technical Evangelist. I’ll be working on technical marketing materials, conferences, blog posts, and all kinds of neat stuff like that. I think it’s a good overlap of my skills and interests, and it will certainly be a new set of challenges.

So while this move is good for me, and good for Cycle Computing’s marketing efforts, it also means we need a new person to manage our support team. The job has been posted to our job board. If you’re interested, I encourage you to apply. It’s a great team at a great company. If you have any questions, I’d be happy to talk to you about it.

Forecast Discussion Hall of Fame featured in The Atlantic

On Friday, The Atlantic published an article about National Weather Service forecast discussions and why they are…they way they are. The article prominently featured several entries in the Forecast Discussion Hall of Fame and mentioned yours truly by name. After years of carefully curating the best forecast discussions, my hard work is finally paying off. Time to quit my job and bask in the glory!

Okay, so maybe not. It’s a pretty cool thing to happen, though. If this blog has gained any new followers thanks to that article, welcome!

While snowfall records were falling over the weekend, FunnelFiasco records were falling, too. I took a look at the site stats for weather.funnelfiasco.com over the weekend. As of Saturday evening, just the weather subdomain had nearly 14,000 hits from about 2,700 unique visitors in January, almost all on Friday and Saturday. That’s over six months’ worth of traffic and about half a month’s for all of FunnelFiasco.

January traffic by day for weather.funnelfiasco.com through the evening of January 23.

January traffic by day for weather.funnelfiasco.com through the evening of January 23.

Let’s look at some meaningless statistics. The two largest hosts were both .noaa.gov addresses, which doesn’t surprise me. I have to figure that the article would have had some interest in the halls of the National Weather Service. A caltech.edu address was 18th, which surprises me. I guess my Purdue friends don’t read The Atlantic. The leading operating system was Windows, with iOS, Linux, and OS X following. iOS was 23% of January weather.funnelfiasco.com traffic and it’s normally 1.9% of total funnelfiasco.com traffic.

500 posts and counting

WordPress tells me that this post is the 500th one I’ve published. Interestingly, it’s also the 100th post in 2015. My first post was published in January 2008, so that means I’m averaging about 63 per year. Considering I was publishing three times a week for a while, that means there’s a pretty big lull in there somewhere. But I’ve been able to keep a pace of two posts per week pretty well this year; I’m hoping to sustain that into 2016 and beyond.

How do the posts break down?

Category Count
FLOSS 150
Musings 112
The Internet 104
FunnelFiasco 96
Weather 80
Project Management 42
Sports 41
HPC/HTC 26
Uncategorized 16
Mac 16
Web Design 9
Cooking 5

Of the 556 comments (more than one per article, yay?), eight had 10 or more. The most commented is my article about bad security on Speeddate.com, many of which were “please delete my Speeddate.com account”.

I didn’t do anything with page view stats until earlier this year, but since then my most viewed article is one about fixing a CUPS error from April 2010, which still averages 3-5 views a day. 40% of my traffic comes on Tuesdays and 17% comes during the 8 PM (hour any day). Perhaps I need to adjust my posting schedule?

In any case, thanks for reading, commenting, and sharing on these 500 posts. I’m looking forward to the next 500.